By Jada Mier
The community for many years has depended upon and supported the Wendel Ley Family YMCA on Wallisville Rd. for athletic programs and social activities. Now with the pandemic limiting personal interaction, the YMCA must find new ways to offer services, such as virtual classes and reservations to use facilities within the building.
The current pandemic has exposed critical issues that require more action from the Y than ever before. The organization’s new direction for 2021 will highlight the Y’s community impact beyond its buildings and provide opportunities such as its new Impact Membership, giving Houstonians a chance to make a difference with the Y.
On the COVID front Jessica Bains, Director of Operations, chimed in on how the services have changed in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. She explained ,“We have to be a little creative when it comes to reaching out to our members. We have virtual studio, and we have virtual instructors for exercising, as well as classes on demand. We now also offer Impact memberships for those who are not comfortable enough to come into the building. This way people still have access to our group exercise online, this does not include access to the facility, but they pay twenty-five dollars a month for the online platform called HTX that connects you to YMCA services.”
Larnelle Morgan, Regional youth and family director, explained that the YMCA offers a wide variety of programs, highlighting sports specifically. He said, “We are big on basketball here, but we offer volleyball flag football and soccer. We also offer monthly clinics but are also trying to dabble in adult sports or something towards the age group of 12-15.”
He explained that in the way of safety protocols what has changed is that “we have a full-time attendant in our healthy living space, and they are sanitizing equipment and making sure that we are doing our part to make sure the community is safe.”
Bains said, “We want to welcome the community. We just have to make sure they are safe.”
For the gymnasium and the functional studio, racket ball, and group x classes, reservations must be placed in order to use. Once their pool opens, reservations will also be required.
The locker rooms, showers and saunas are still open to members, though, and there are 2 staff members there to keep those specific areas clean. Ariana Mendoza explained that for people who are looking to possibly become members but are afraid to commit, there is a one-day guest pass for those wanting to explore the facility and all it has to offer. She stated, “The YMCA is more than just a gym, although COVID has made it hard we are trying to transition back into the social aspect that is the Y.”